Online Program

‘Queremos tener las cosas ocultas pero pienso que también somos guerreras': Non-disclosure and Secrecy among Latina Breast Cancer Survivors

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Claudia Aguado Loi, PhD, MPH, CHES, Department of Community and Family Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Kelsey Anderson, B.A., Department of Anthropology and Department of Global Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Dinorah Martinez Tyson, PhD, MPH, MA, Department of Community and Family Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Background: Over two-thirds of Latina women diagnosed with breast cancer experience distress such as depression and anxiety, which can negatively impact quality of life, treatment adherence, and overall survivorship. Yet, mental health services are underutilized, especially among Latinos. An examination of two exploratory studies with Latina breast cancer survivors (LBCS) revealed an emerging, culturally informed theme of non-disclosure and secrecy surrounding cancer diagnosis that exacerbated distress. Thus, this presentation examined non-disclosure and secrecy among LBCS and its role in cancer survivorship and mental health. 

Methods: Drawing from in-depth, semi-structured interviews (n=95) gathered during two studies with LBCS in west central Florida, this presentation analyzed the emerging theme of non-disclosure and secrecy through axial coding, focusing on how it impacted coping strategies, sources of support, and help-seeking behavior. Participants were within 5 years of initial breast cancer diagnosis and had completed primary treatment.      

Results: Resistance to disclosure was linked with a variety of motivators, including desires to avoid burdening family and fears of stigma. These hesitations functioned as impediments to seeking formal mental health services and informal support from family and friends, further compounding women’s distress. However, among some women, disclosure led to positive outcomes such as catharsis.

Conclusion: Determinants of distress are multifaceted, and LBCS’s hesitations towards disclosure appear to be rooted in cultural beliefs of privacy and social risks of disclosing. Findings suggest that interventions seeking to reduce the perceived cost of disclosure while leveraging its benefits may improve help-seeking behaviors, contributing to improved survivorship and quality of life.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss Latina breast cancer survivors’ motivations for and experiences with non-disclosure of diagnosis and mental health issues Examine how non-disclosure impacts Latina breast cancer survivors’ coping strategies, sources of support, and help-seeking behavior

Keyword(s): Latinos

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the PI of this study. I was responsible for the conceptualization of the project, design, implementation, and analysis of the project. My background and experience are extensive in the area of Latina breast cancer survivorship.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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